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Shanxi - Chongshan Temple

Shanxi - Datong - Pingyao - Taiyuan

Initially built in the Tang dynasty, the Chongshan Monastery (Temple for Appreciating Kindliness) was once called White Horse Monastery (Baima Si).

In 1383, in memory of his mother, Zhu Gang, third son of Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang (1328-1398), first emperor of the Ming dynasty had the monastery rebuilt and extended, renaming it Chongshan Monastery.

Chongshan TempleConstruction was completed in 1391. The layout of the splendid palace-like monastery is evident from the extant Chongshan Monastery Construction Plan. Covering an area of 40.4 acres, the Chongshan Monastery was obviously magnificent.

However, during the reign of Emperor Tongzhi (1856-1875) of the Qing dynasty, the monastery was almost reduced to ashes. Today only one-fortieth of the monastery survives, including the Bell Tower, the Dabei Hall, and the east and west wing rooms. Local governments have restored some of its former brilliance to the monastery.

In these surviving monastery buildings are 3 splendid treasures. One is the sutras. Chongshan Monastery is famous for the original edition of the sutras of the Song, Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties kept here. The oldest sutra has a history of over 1,000 years. The second treasure is the "Gem Paintings", copies of 2 frescos still retaining their bright colors after 500 years. The third treasure is 3 gilded Ming dynasty mud statues of Bodhisattvas all about 8 m high. In the middle is Kwan-yin Goddess of Mercy, with her 1,000 hands and eyes. All 3 statues still retain their florid colors and smooth lines, rare artworks of the Ming dynasty.

A Buddhist temple, Chongshan Monastery has become a key cultural relic under the protection of Shanxi Province and home to the Buddhist Association of Shanxi Province. The precious sutra and Taoist scriptures are not only examples of Chinese woodblock printing history, but of ancient Chinese calligraphy and carving arts luring accomplished monks, scholars and tourists.